20 Questions to Simon Birtall (www.birtall.co.uk).
1: Who are you?
I’m Simon Birtall. Hello.
2: What is your background?
Following completion of a Foundation Course in Art & Design at Wirral Met’s Withens Lane campus, I studied Illustration at Falmouth School of Arts in Cornwall. I stayed in Cornwall for about 12 years, before moving back to the Wirral.
3: Where were you born?
Wirral. A couple of weeks overdue.
4: Explain your work in up to 40 words.
I try to work as rapidly as possible, allowing myself the freedom to make mistakes. Playing with paint, I enjoy experimenting with colours, tone and texture. I paint as loosely as possible within a figurative framework.
5: How has your practice changed over time?
I’m less methodical now, and more able and willing to trust my own judgement and instincts. In the past I made the mistake of listening to the advice and opinions of too many people and trying to please all of them. I try to stay true to myself now and not worry about what other people think.
6: Do you have a favourite medium to work in?
Oils. Hands down. Although I enjoy working in other media – acrylics, watercolour, pencil, pastel etc. – from time to time.
7: Do you pursue any themes? If so what?
I jump about a bit. Probably too much. Colour and light are perhaps the recurrent themes throughout my work.
8: What other jobs have you done/do you do other than being an artist?
I’ve worked as a web designer on a full-time or part-time, employed or freelance, basis since around 2000, though less so these days. I was also a ‘Product Marketing Co-ordinator’ for a while – a glorified in-house designer, designing, printing and binding promotional materials for an optoelectronics company – and worked in a gallery for a bit.
9: What research do you do for your art?
Nothing specifically, but I take influences from everything around me whether it’s art – good or bad – or not.
10: What makes you angry?
Rude, arrogant or inconsiderate people. Official bodies prioritising profit over general well-being.
11: What is your favourite colour?
I don’t really have one. If you were to twist my arm I’d say a warm Cadmium Yellow.
12: What is your favourite piece that you have produced?
That’s tricky. A painting of Ashton Park in West Kirby (http://birtall.co.uk/fineart/wirral/ashtonpark-westkirby.htm) is an old favourite, or perhaps this sketch of some clementines.
13: What music/album are you currently listening to?
At the moment I’m trying to listen to albums in our collection that I would normally overlook – trying to resist listening to the same albums over. I’ve just listened to Richard Thompson’s new waxing ‘Still’, and I might make an exception for that.
14: What makes you happy?
15: What are your favourite films?
I’ve unfortunately got a terrible memory and there are scores of films that I’ve seen that might fall into this category that I’ve temporary forgotten about. I tend to like slightly sentimental, nicely-shot, non-violent films with moving soundtracks. Cyrano de Bergerac I’ve always liked. Hugo springs to mind too. And Manhattan. But then again, I’m happy with a Carry On.
16: Favourite place?
It used to be the Isle of Mull, but I haven’t been there for a while now. I’m most happy these days in art galleries if I’m not working.
17: One or more artists you like?
Van Gogh, Monet, Rothko, Brangwyn
18: What is your favourite word?
Chocolate. Or cake.
19: Professionally what is your goal?
To carry on regardless and see what happens.
20: What would your dream commission be?
Anything that would enable me to ditch all the distractions and just paint would be good. And anything where I didn’t have to go through a committee and was left in sole creative charge. Unfortunately most of the major commissions I have undertaken to date have involved going through committees at each stage and that largely counter-productive process isn’t often a friend to creativity.
Fine Art, Illustration & Web Design
Telephone: 0779 0471 098